1932 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. To commemorate the event, the Treasury planned to strike a Half Dollar coin bearing the likeness of Washington. Changing the Half Dollar required congressional approval, however, so the chosen denomination became the Quarter Dollar.
The Washington Head Quarter was designed by John Flanagan. The coin's obverse features a portrait of George Washington facing left, with the phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST" printed just below his chin. "LIBERTY" arcs along the top of the coin, and the year is displayed at the bottom. The coin's reverse displays an eagle with its wings spread, clutching a set of arrows within its claws. Half a wreath is displayed below the eagle, while "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "E PLURIBUS UNUM" arc above its head. "QUARTER DOLLAR" appears just below the wreath.
To commemorate the bicentennial in 1976, a new reverse design was created for the Washington Head Quarter. Designed by Jack Ahr, the reverse featured a colonial "Drummer Boy" facing left, with a small torch encircled by thirteen stars. The date on the coin's obverse was replaced by "1776-1976". The eagle design returned in 1977.
The coin's original composition was changed from 90% silver and 10% copper to a combination of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to a copper core.
Beginning in 1999, the coin's design was modified again. The obverse was changed slightly, featuring a smaller portrait of Washington facing left. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" appears at the top, and "QUARTER DOLLAR" at the bottom. "LIBERTY" is printed on the left side below Washington's chin, and "IN GOD WE TRUST" appears to the right of his neck. The coin's reverse is chosen from a selection of fifty designs - one for each state of the union. These new quarters are known as the 50 State QuartersTM.
United States Coinage